2019 was a hell of a year for hip hop project releases for both mainstream and non-mainstream artists. It started off with an absolute bang with Boogie’s Everythings for Sale (which I strongly believe is one of the top five albums of 2019) and continued into DaBaby’s Baby on Baby. By the end of the Summer, we also had what many people call the album of the year with Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s Bandana and IGOR by Tyler, the Creator. Not to mention that Rapsody continued her mesmerizing display of song-making ability mixed with just raw bars on Eve while YBN Cordae hit the ground running with his debut album titled The Lost Boy.
There were definitely some artists that didn’t drop projects that I was hoping for and there were artists that did drop projects that I thought were underwhelming and am hoping for another in 2020. Here are five artists I need projects from in 2020.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased here as Earl is one of my favorite rappers but since 2015, Earl hasn’t dropped anything that moved me as much as his earlier work. He did drop an EP in 2019 titled Feet of Clay which lyrically I thought was dope but as an EP it wasn’t a finished body of work so it left me yearning for more, selfish I know.
I think the reason I haven’t been moved as much with his latest music is that it’s been highly experimental and I’m such a fan of his earlier work that I set the bar for him that he hasn’t reached since the release of I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside.
He’s been on my radar since 2010 when he released Earl and then followed that up with Doris, that’s when I told myself ‘this kid is incredible.’ Maybe I’m being unfair because I just want to hear the old Earl. I know people change and grow over time, I’m hoping to get more of that dark dungeon lyricism that wowed me in 2015.
I caught wind of Dave with his mixtape release of Game Over in late 2018. It’s possible I was late to the party since this project released in 2017 but I thought it was good, at least good enough to leave me wanting to hear more. He followed that up with Psychodrama in early 2019 and this was a massive improvement from Game Over in almost every way.
I understand that Game Over was a mixtape and Psychodrama was an official album release but you can hear the growth in artistry and lyrics from one project to the next. This album is pretty dark and touches on some deep issues with Dave’s life ranging from his lack of a father, dealing with mental health and navigating through relationship drama.
Lyrically, Dave comes from a somewhat unique angle not only because of his content but also the British accent he holds. I mean, dude can rap his ass off and has great delivery and timing for a 21-year-old. Psychodrama clocks in at about 51 minutes in length and 18 minutes of that are taken up by two songs, “Leslie” and “Drama.” Normally I’m not a fan of tracks that go beyond five minutes in length because they typically lack quality content throughout the entire duration, but Dave has a way of keeping me engaged from start to finish (I’m sure the accent helps).
Psychodrama was a 2019 release so I don’t expect a new project in 2020, but I’d certainly love to hear another towards the end of the year.
REASON is one of the newest members of the Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) record label. He dropped his debut album There You Have It in May 2017 but it was re-released under TDE in September 2018. I feel like REASON epitomizes “struggle rap” through his raspy voice and song content. Admittedly, I haven’t heard anything that came before There You Have It but this debut album won over a fan in me and I’m looking forward to another project this year.
Benny the Butcher
One could argue that Benny the Butcher has been the busiest rapper in the game lately. Since the start of 2017, Benny has released three collab albums (Butcher on Steroids, Stabbed & Shot, and Statue of Limitations), a mixtape (A Friend of Ours), an album with his rap group Griselda (WWCD), an EP (Plugs I Met) and his own studio album (Tana Talk 3).
It’s not just the number of projects that he’s put out, it’s the quality of it. Tana Talk 3, Plugs I Met and WWCD are all incredible projects and it sounds like Benny the Butcher is getting better with every release. To top all of that off, he’s appeared on numerous tracks as a feature and has absolutely bodied those tracks.
You can’t go anywhere without reading or hearing about Griselda and it’s 100% warranted, these dudes are really out here grinding. With all of that being said, I predict we’ll be blessed with another Benny the Butcher studio album in 2020 as Griselda will continue to keep that momentum rolling through 2020 into 2021.
Saba is a young dude at only 25 so I’m sure he’s been enjoying the success of the widely acclaimed sophomore album Care for Me. That album was released in the middle of 2018 and Saba has been relatively quiet ever since besides a few features here and there. He had an amazing guest verse of Dreamville’s Revenger of the Dreamers III on the beautiful track “Sacrifices” and that song really played to Saba’s strengths.
He excels at rapping meaningful lyrics over soulful production. It’s tracks like this that makes me want another full-length Saba album and I hope 2020 will be the year he makes that happen.
I absolutely loved every second of Everythings For Sale and have been playing non-stop since it’s release. Boogie actually has an entire catalog that’s 🔥 if you go back through and listen starting from Thirst 48, The Reach and Thirst 48 Pt. 2.
I mean a man can hope right? I think this legend still has it in him to deliver one more classic. I’d die a happy man for a DOOM and Earl collab.
Similar to Saba, JID released a highly successful and highly acclaimed album in 2018, DiCaprio 2. As much as I’d love another JID project in 2020, I still listen to his two albums The Never Story and DiCaprio 2 quite a bit so I guess I’m still satisfied. As a fan of JID though, another album wouldn’t hurt.
Those are the five artists I need projects from in 2020. We’ll see what ends up happening but let’s all hope some of these come to fruition.